October 13, 2011


Charles W. Chesnutt, Stories, Novels, and Essays: The Conjure Woman; The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories of the Color Line; The Home Behind the Cedars; The Marrow of Tradition; Uncollected Stories; Selected Essays, edited by Werner Sollors (New York: Library of America, 2002) (From "The Courts and the Negro": "I presume that hanging might be pleasant if a man could only convince himself that it would not be painful, nor disgraceful, nor terminate his earthly career. It is perhaps true that some Negroes--I suspect very few people of mixed blood--have seemed to accept this reasoning. But I have never been able to see how a self-respecting colored man can approve of any discriminating legislation. To do so is to condone his own degradation, and accept an inferior citizenship. If discrimination must of necessity be submitted to, it should meet no better reception than silence. Protest were better still." Id. at 895, 902. From the book jacket: "Rejecting his era's genteel hypocrisy about miscegenation, lynching, and 'passing,' Charles W. Chestnutt broke new ground in American literature with his innovative exploration of racial identity and his use of African-American speech and folklore. Chestnutt laid bare the deep contradictions at the heart o American attitudes towards race and history, and in the process created the modern African-American novel. . . .").